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Roanoke County officer’s de-escalation training helped calm down 9-year-old after school bus incident

‘We de-escalate situations more often by using our words than maybe taking a weapon out’

A local police officer helped a 9-year-old boy during an incident on a school bus.
A local police officer helped a 9-year-old boy during an incident on a school bus.

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Thursday morning started off like any other day for Officer Andrea Morris, until she got a call around 7:30 a.m.

“I heard a call go out of a child that was beating up one of the bus drivers on one of the buses,” said Morris, an officer with the Roanoke County Police Department.

Morris rushed to the bus stop near Pinevale and Garst Mill Roads. Police said a 9-year-old boy, who has behavioral issues, was getting on the bus but refused to wear a mask. When he was asked to sit in the back, he got aggressive and attacked the school bus monitor. The bus driver called police.

“Your concerns, obviously, go to the safety of the children - all of the children - that are on the bus,” said Morris.

That’s when Morris, a mom and a school resource officer, stepped in.

“I just talked to him. I asked him, ‘What’s going on buddy?’” said Morris. “Realized that he had just had a really rough day. He realized that I wasn’t there to take him to jail. That I really wanted to know what was going on with him and that I was here to help him.”

Roanoke County Police Commander Chris Kuyper said that kind of de-escalation tactic comes naturally to Morris and her fellow officers. They go through different de-escalation scenarios with adults and children in the police academy and every year.

“We de-escalate situations more often by using our words than maybe taking a weapon out,” said Kuyper.

After Morris calmed the boy down, she buckled him up in the front seat of her cruiser and drove him to school herself.

“He wanted to make sure that he got a hug before he left. And he wanted to be a police officer when he grew up. And so that’s refreshing to see him light up like that.”

Morris said she’s glad she could brighten the boy’s day, though it was just like any other day on the job.

“This is just a typical day for us,” said Morris.


About the Author:

Lindsey joined the WSLS 10 team as a reporter in February 2019 and is thrilled to call Roanoke her new home!